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“Government must reassess its decision not to reform Carers means test system.” Carol Nolan

Independent TD for Laois Offaly, Carol Nolan, has said that while many of the measures announced in yesterday’s Budget will have a limited impact on family carers; the decision not to reform the means test approach to eligibility is a significant disappointment.

Deputy Nolan was speaking after it was confirmed that carers will receive a €12 increase in the weekly rate of Carer’s Allowance and Carer’s Benefit, a €20 rise in Domiciliary Care Allowance, a €500 once-off payment in November to those in receipt of the Carer’s Support Grant and a double “cost of living” social welfare payment in October. However, Family Carers Ireland which represents 500,000 carers across the state described the measures as lacking in long-term strategic ambition:

“I made it a core priority in my own pre-Budget submission to have the means test system that is currently applied to those seeking a carers payment thoroughly reformed. That did not happen as Government chose instead to tinker around the edges instead of offering a more substantial vision of how it wants to properly respect those who save this state tens of billions of euros each year,” said Deputy Nolan.

“What this will mean is that many families who are in dire need of access to carer supported respite services will continue to be locked out because they are marginally above the income threshold. This is unacceptable and it must be reviewed.”

“I also have serious concerns about the level of increase to the Carer’s Allowance and Carer’s Benefit as we know from both the ESRI and from the Tax Strategy Group paper on Social Protection that even a €15 increase would not have been sufficient to keep pace with inflation. I and my colleagues in the Rural Independent Group called for €20 increase across the board. Government chose to offer carers €12 which is going to be eaten up in cost of living rises.”

“I acknowledge that Government have made some welcome progress in how it treats our carers but at the fundamental level the approach is just more of the same. There has been no change to the expectation that carers and their families will continue to bear the burden and the cost of being a parallel health care system,” concluded Deputy Nolan.

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